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I was once told by a professional counselor that when someone is going through a traumatic event it’s very important that the victim be able to create a story (true story, as in, a sequence of the events that have actually happened) so that the person can better make sense as to what has happened to him or her. I believe that we all have a need to make sense of the world, as a whole, but that we also have a need to make sense of “our world,” meaning, the job we go to, the people we are around, our own family, and our own struggles and crises. What are the concepts that are needed to “make sense” of our world, and the mess it’s in? I believe that the concepts we need to make sense of our world are the concepts needed to make sense of any story: Beginning, Conflict, Resolution of the Conflict, and Ending
Why is the element of a “beginning” necessary to make sense of the world, and the mess it’s in? This is necessary because we can usually better understand something if we know where it comes from. In another sense, we can better understand someone if we understand where they come from as well. We often find our identity, rightly or wrongly, in our beginnings. This is why we often take on our “family name” somewhere within our name because this symbolizes where we come from and it says something about who we are. Indeed, it’s impossible to be able to form an accurate identity of ourselves if we do not determine our beginning. We will never make sense of the world, in general, nor will we ever make sense of our “own world,” if we do not understand our beginnings, our origins. The starting point usually determines which direction you will be headed, so it’s important that we know our “starting point.” Every story you read and every story you find yourself in on this planet had a beginning at some point, and discovering that beginning will aid you in better understanding that story you’re in.
Why is the element of “conflict” necessary to make sense of the world, and the mess it’s in? Every good story that has ever been written always has a good conflict, meaning, something or someone that is against the main character(s) within the narrative. It is the conflict that usually makes the story interesting. Think of “Star Wars.” There is a “dark side” to the force (Darth Vader, Kylo Ren, The Emperor, etc.) that is always fighting against the Jedis, or the “good guys” in the story. We are fascinated with these bad guys and where they’ve come from (their beginnings!) and who they really are. Without the “dark side” of the force, there really is no “Star Wars” saga; it’s simply a bunch of Jedis sitting around throwing their lightsabers into trees for the fun of it since there are no bad guys to fight. The point is, we all have “bad guys” to fight in this life, whether in the form of difficult people, adverse circumstances, physical illnesses, natural disasters, or any other number of evil things that bring “conflict” into our lives. It’s usually these items within the element of “conflict” that we desire to overcome and be rid of in our lives. It’s the conflict that we look at in this world and say, “What a grand mess we are in? How do I make sense of this?” It’s usually the conflict that we are puzzled at and for which we desire a solution. In order to understand our world, we must understand the true nature of the conflict at hand, otherwise, we will be fighting the wrong battle.
Resolution of the Conflict
Why is the element of “resolution of the conflict” necessary to make sense of the world, and the mess it’s in? Without a resolution to the conflict, there is no hope. All we have and all we see is the conflict if there is no resolution to that conflict. This is why episode 4 of the Star Wars saga is called “Star Wars: A New Hope.” The people within the Stars Wars story were being overrun by the Dark Side, and they needed hope. Eventually, they would find hope in the young Jedi, Luke Skywalker. We are a people looking for hope and longing for hope. Conflict is all around us and we are seeking, earnestly, for hope. It looks as if we are seeking for hope from our circumstances, meaning that we are looking for deliverance from the conflict, but I believe that it’s also important for us to find hope within the conflict, meaning, we are also seeking for a purpose through, or because of, the conflict. Can hope arise in the midst of pain and tragedy? Can light ultimately shine and pierce the darkness? Everyone on this planet asks questions such as these. We are hard-wired for seeking hope. We cannot live without hope and we cannot live as if hope doesn’t ultimately exist. A view of the world that says “All is hopeless” is a view of the world that ultimately cannot be lived and sustained. We must have hope and that hope must be real, and the hope we are seeking is a hope that brings us beyond and through the conflict. Every good story has a resolution to the conflict, thus it’s the same for our lives as well.
Why is the element of “ending” necessary to make sense of the world, and the mess it’s in? This element of “ending” makes sense simply because there is a beginning that all of this has come from. If there were no beginning, then there would not be an end. There is an end to it all because there was a beginning at some point. If there were not a beginning, then there would be no end, but there is a beginning, so there must be an end. All good stories have an ending. This idea of “ending” is very closely related to the previous element of “Resolution of the Conflict,” in that all will be resolved at the end. We are all seeking deliverance from our conflict that we are involved with now, but there is another sense that we are all looking forward to an ultimate end to all conflict everywhere. We are all looking forward to a day when strivings, pain, evil, abuse, disappointments, tragedy, and a thousand other expressions of conflict, will cease. It seems counterintuitive to think that it won’t end one day since it all began at one point in the past. We know, for certain, that our individual lives will end one day in death. What will happen to us when we die? Where will I go? These are pressing questions that we must think seriously about since, arguably, we will be in a “post-death” state more than we are in our current “pre-death” state. People that only lived to be 40 years old and died in the year 17AD have now been dead (in a “post-death” state) for 2000 years, much longer than the 40 they were alive. We do not like to think of death or “ending,” but it is inevitable. I believe that grasping this “ending” to our lives and the ending of it all is a key to overcoming the conflict in our lives and supplying us with hope.
How do I (Billy) make sense of the mess this world is in?
All I want to do now is give a brief response to each or our story-elements above to show how I (Billy) make sense of the mess in our world.
- Beginning: God. Everything was made by God and everything was made for God. All things come from God, including humans, thus, He is our beginning and our “starting point.”
- Conflict: Sin. Death came as a result of sin and it’s solving the sin problem that assists us in overcoming the great enemy (and ultimate conflict) of death.
- Resolution of the Conflict: Christ. The great conflict is summed up in sin, which equals death, and the great resolution to the conflict is Christ crucified on a cross. Christ died in our place on the cross so that we may live. Christ died eternal life to bring and lives that death may die if we put our trust in Him.
- Ending: Eternity in Heaven or Hell. We all came from God, and we all will return to God. Due to our sin, this world is a mess. Christ, however, came to die to “clean up” our mess and save us from death and hell. Once we die, our lives will end on this planet, and one great day, Christ will return and put an end to all death, grief, suffering, cancer, natural disasters, terrorism, pain, betrayal, loss, strivings, and stress. One great day, all of the darkness will flee, for those that know Him. This is our hope; He is our hope. It’s our hope in Him that causes us to persevere in the midst of pain and conflict in our current moment. What do you need most? You need hope. And where can you find true, lasting hope? That enduring type of hope is certainly lacking down here on earth, but we are called to lift up our eyes and to set our minds on things above. We are called to look to Christ and the hope that He offers freely to us if we will only receive Him.
C.S. Lewis said, “The story of Christ is simply a true myth: a myth working on us in the same way as the others, but with this tremendous difference that it really happened” (source). We love the idea of a story, as in, Beginning, Conflict, Resolution of Conflict, and Ending because it reflects reality, namely, Christianity. It’s the “one true story” among all other stories, and it alone will help us to make sense of the mess that this world is in.
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- How is it that you make sense of the mess this world (your world!) is in?